John's Journal...

What Hunters Should Know About Nuts to Take Buck Deer

Day 4: How Deer Hunters Can Select and Fertilize Nut Trees and Shrubs to Have More Deer with Larry Norton

Editor’s Note: Because of the success of that hunt for deer near nut trees (see Day 1) I’ve been nuts for bucks ever since. If you know how to hunt nut trees, you consistently can pattern and take deer year after year in the same area. A man who has far more knowledge than myself and spends most of his time in the woods hunting nuts is avid deer hunter and guide, Larry Norton of Butler, Alabama.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewAfter the white oaks and the chestnut oaks have stopped producing nuts, Norton once again begins to hunt water oak acorns. Norton also may hunt shrubs like blackberry bushes and greenbrier (smilax) later in the season, especially if he has fertilized these plants before the season.

Why to Fertilize Nut Trees and Shrubs for Deer:

Norton has learned a secret that allows him to concentrate deer under one particular tree in an area with a large number of acorn trees in it. Often too-many available acorn trees can be more difficult for the bowhunter to hunt around than when no acorn trees at all are present. For instance, if you are hunting a region with 20 to 50 white oak trees, and all these trees are dropping their nuts at about the same time, deer will meander through this region feeding on nuts from all the trees, which makes getting a buck to within bow range difficult.

“I will pick one tree in a section and fertilize only that tree,” Norton says. “The fertilizer makes the tree bear more nuts that also are bigger and sweeter. Nuts from a fertilized tree seem to be sweeter nuts than the nuts from an unfertilized tree. Even if you’re in an area where several trees are dropping their acorns at the same time, you can concentrate the deer under the tree that has been fertilized.”

Norton has a formula for selecting the trees he fertilizes. “I first look for thick-cover bedding areas deer will be utilizing,” Norton emphasizes. “Then I choose the nut tree closest to the bedding region, which usually will be the first tree the deer will feed on when they come from bedding, and the last tree they will feed on when they are moving to their bedding site. I generally fertilize one tree for each week of the season I plan to hunt. In other words, once I know which tree will be dropping its nuts first in that section of the woods during the season, that tree is the one I will fertilize. Then I continuously will have a newly-fertilized tree to hunt next to with my bow each week of the season.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“I also fertilize trees according to species. I fertilize some water oak and red oak trees for the first of the season, white oaks for the middle of the season, chestnut oaks and water oaks for the latter part of the season and the briar thickets and stands of greenbrier and honeysuckle for the end of the season. Remember, if you want to consistently take deer from the trees you fertilize, don’t tell anyone which trees you have fertilized.

“I primarily fertilize trees after deer season – usually in January, February and March when no one else is in the woods. Not only is this time best to fertilize a tree, but also then no one else sees what you are doing. Start from under the outside limbs of a tree, and use a posthole digger to dig a hole 3-feet deep. Fill the hole 2-feet deep with 13/13/13 fertilizer, and put one foot of dirt over the top of the hole. Place your holes about 5-feet apart all the way back to within 3-feet of the base of the trees. Dig these holes on all four sides of the tree in a spoke-like diagram to carry nutrients down to the root system.”

To learn more about deer hunting, you can get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks, 
How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” and “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” or to prepare venison, get “Deer & Fixings.” Click here on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Larry Norton’s Bowhunting Strategies for Hunting Fertilized Nut Trees for Deer

Check back each day this week for more about What Hunters Should Know About Nuts to Take Buck Deer"

Day 1: Bowhunters Know Oak Trees Are Hot Spots for Taking Deer
Day 2: Longtime Deer Hunter Larry Norton Says to Follow the Squirrel and Keep a Tree Log to Find Bucks
Day 3: Know Which Nut Trees to Hunt and When for Success in Taking a Buck Deer
Day 4: How Deer Hunters Can Select and Fertilize Nut Trees and Shrubs to Have More Deer with Larry Norton
Day 5: Larry Norton’s Bowhunting Strategies for Hunting Fertilized Nut Trees for Deer

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Entry 788, Day 4